With enactment of the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act, Rhode Island employers with 18 or more employees—except for governments—will have to comply with new paid sick and safe leave provisions starting July 1.

The provisions are designed to allow workers to take time off in order to focus on their health care or the care of their families. Covered purposes include:

  • Mental or physical illnesses, injuries or conditions
  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Preventive care
  • Leave related to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking
  • Public health emergencies that result in closure of the employee’s workplace or their child’s school or day care
  • Exposure to a communicable disease

Proposed regulations issued by the Department of Labor and Training provide details on application of the new law.

Leave Accrual

Under the law, employees—even if they’re just part-time workers—must be allowed to accrue one hour of paid leave for every 35 hours they work. This accrual is based on hours paid, not worked, so they can earn time on a holiday or while on vacation.

The requirements will be phased in, increasing over the next three years as follows:

  • 2018: employers must provide up to 24 hours of leave
  • 2019: employers must provide up to 32 hours of leave
  • 2020: employers must provide up to 40 hours of leave

Administration

Rhode Island employers can provide a monthly lump sum of leave based on an employee’s average hours, and can front load leave at the beginning of the year to alleviate the administrative burden of tracking.

When it comes to use of the leave, the regulations include some guidelines:

  • Employers can impose a 90-day waiting period for new employees, as long as the requirement is documented in a policy.
  • When an employee’s absence is foreseeable, meaning planned at least 24 hours before it’s needed, the employee should provide notice in a reasonable timeframe. When leave is unforeseeable, the employer’s notice policies must be reasonable.
  • If an employee is out of work on sick leave for three or more consecutive days, the employer can request medical documentation.

Compliance

Employers who violate the law’s provisions will be fined $100 for a first offense and $100 to $500 for subsequent offenses. To comply, be sure to review your current sick time or PTO policies. Those employers who already provide the minimum time required under the law are exempt from its accrual, carryover and use provisions.

If you don’t have a policy in place, it’s time to create one that complies with the law. And be sure to communicate the updates in your handbook.

The comment period on the proposed regulations closed April 8. We will keep you updated on any new information about the law as it’s announced. For more information, contact Karyn Rhodes at 401-332-9325 or by email at krhodes@completepayrollsolutions.com.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

While Massachusetts has had a pay equity law since 1945, the state recently strengthened the Equal Pay Act to close the gender gap with new worker protections that will go into effect July 1:

  • The amended law includes a broader definition of comparable work that is more favorable for employees bringing a pay-discrimination claim
  • Employers can no longer ask candidates about their previous salaries or contact a former employer to confirm their wages until after an offer is made, although nothing prohibits a prospective employee from voluntarily providing the information
  • Under the updated Act, companies can’t prevent employees from discussing wages
  • Businesses can’t retaliate against employees who exercise their rights under the law

Defining Comparable Work

Under the amended law, companies can’t discriminate, based on gender, in the payment of wages for comparable work. The law defines comparable work as that which requires substantially similar skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions. To determine comparable work, employers must not just rely on job titles or descriptions.

The law permits certain wage variations, however, such as those based on a legitimate merit or seniority system, geographic location, education, and travel requirements.

Steep Penalties for Violations

The Act makes it easier for workers to bring a claim, and the penalties can be steep: employers who violate the equal pay provision of the law are liable for twice the amount of the unpaid wages owed to the affected employee plus attorney’s fees, and those who violate one of the other provisions may be required to pay any damages actually incurred by the employee or applicant.

What the Updated Law Means for HR

To comply with the law, companies need to make sure their pay practices are fair. One way to do this is to complete a self-evaluation to identify any disparities, which also affords companies a defense to claims if they can demonstrate that they completed a review and made reasonable progress towards eliminating pay differences based on gender.

In addition, since the law presents new challenges to those screening and interviewing job candidates and negotiating offers, companies should train hiring managers and other potential interviewers about the new law’s restrictions on salary history questions and what’s still permissible, such as asking about compensation expectations.

More guidance is available from the Office of the Attorney General. Or contact the experts at Complete Payroll Solutions by clicking the image below.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

Every year, the IRS reviews the maximum contribution limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to account for cost-of-living changes. For 2018, the IRS adjusted the limits for inflation and set the maximum at $6,900 for taxpayers with family coverage.

After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted, however, it retroactively lowered the maximum by $50 to $6,850. Following requests for relief due to unanticipated administrative and financial burdens, in April, the IRS reversed course, issuing Revenue Procedure 2018-27 that allows the original $6,900 limit to remain in effect.

If you have any questions about the change or how it may impact individuals who received a distribution from an HSA of an excess contribution based on the $6,850 limit, email benefits@completepayrollsolutions.com or call Complete Payroll Solutions’ benefits line at 877.253.9020.

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State and federal—and even local—laws affect all aspects of labor and employment, everything from wages and overtime to benefits and safety. And they impact different types of workers and businesses of varying sizes so no one is immune.

Keeping up with these changing laws can be daunting. And, unfortunately, the price for noncompliance is high, resulting in fines, penalties and potential lawsuits. Consider these stats:

  • In 2016, 46 percent of US businesses identified labor/employment as the area in which they faced the most pending litigation.
  • Last year, the IRS said it expected to pull in $228 billion in ACA penalties.

Big Regulations, No Matter Your Size

The first step towards compliance is understanding which laws govern your business. And despite what you might think, even mid-size organizations have to comply with many of the same rules and regulations as larger companies. In fact, even companies with as few as 50 employees have to meet requirements under the:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Immigration Reform & Control Act
  • Equal Pay Act
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act
  • Occupational Safety & Health Act
  • Family Medical Leave Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • ACA
  • And more

A Disproportionate Burden

With so many laws, and their complexity, it can be challenging to stay ahead of the requirements. The compliance burden is particularly heavy on mid-size organizations, who often lack the resources to prepare for compliance as quickly as larger businesses. In fact, twenty-four percent of businesses with less than 500 employees say they need at least 150 days to prepare for new compliance requirements – even though regulatory changes can become law in as few as 60 days! And don’t forget: That’s much-needed time diverted from the organization’s core business.

The High Cost of Uncertainty

Compliance carries another cost as well: uncertainty. With the dynamic legislative environment, it can be tough for mid-size businesses to act because they don’t know how pending changes will impact them in the future. That means hiring, raises, investments in equipment or other growth strategies could be put on hold as they await news of the updates’ effects.

It’s Time to Get Serious About Corporate Compliance

With regulations continuing to increase, it’s critical to have a plan in place to stay compliant. While many companies have historically relied on spreadsheets and disparate applications, the volume of information required can render that approach untenable and error-prone.

Instead, HR staff should look to manage compliance by following four steps:

  • Leverage industry resources for guidance on the laws that apply to you and their requirements
  • Consult labor law attorneys for more in-depth professional advice, especially if you have different types of employees and contractors
  • Craft, and enforce, compliance policies consistently
  • Automate compliance functions with an integrated cloud-based solution to administer and manage legislation changes

Find out how to mistake-proof your regulatory compliance with automated workforce solutions by downloading our free whitepaper.

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In an effort to curtail workplace sexual harassment, New York State and City have both passed expansive anti-sexual harassment legislation that includes mandatory training.

New York State Anti-Sexual Harassment Legislation

The New York state budget bill signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on April 12 includes new sexual harassment prevention requirements for all New York employers, regardless of size. Among the obligations the bill includes, which take effect October 9, 2018, are that employers must:

  • Adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy and distribute it in writing to employees. This policy must include a statement prohibiting harassment, outline the procedure for investigations, include a complaint form, and explain employees’ rights, among other things.
  • Conduct annual sexual harassment prevention training for all employees. The interactive training must explain harassment, include examples of unlawful behavior, and provide information about employees’ rights and remedies. It must also include information about supervisor conduct and responsibilities.

The state’s Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Division of Human Rights, will develop a model sexual harassment policy and training program that employers can utilize, or they can develop their own compliant policies and training programs.

New York City Legislation

Following the state’s enactment of anti-sexual harassment legislation, the New York City Council passed the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act that would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide sexual harassment training annually. The Act is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and would take effect April 1, 2019.

Similar to the state law requirements, the city legislation mandates training that includes an explanation of sexual harassment, examples, the complaint process, and the responsibilities of supervisory and managerial employees in the prevention of harassment. The City Commission on Human Rights will develop a training module that can be used.

With these changes looming, now is a good time for New York employers to review their current policies and training procedures for compliance, and update them as necessary.

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You may think your business doesn’t need a workforce management system, but the truth is that businesses of all sizes can benefit from the automation and integration that comes with the right human resources technology. It isn’t only about staying organized, it’s about staying in compliance and staying ahead of costly issues. 

Here are a few reasons why implementing workforce management software will make a noticeable difference in your small business operations.

Stay in Compliance

Workforce management software makes it easier to stay in compliance with the laws that apply to your unique business. You can establish a timeline for regular compliance checks to ensure that your company is always up-to-date. Taking these kinds of precautionary steps can help your business stay ahead of changing regulations, avoid compliance risks and penalties, and protect your company’s reputation.

For example, depending on the size of your company, different regulations imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affect your business. ACA administration—and preparation for any changes to the law in the future–poses complex challenges for companies, but adopting workforce management solutions will simplify the process with compliance alerts, access to important data, and automated benefits enrollment.

Increase Efficiency, Save Money

In the old days, only large corporations could afford high-quality workforce management systems. That’s not the case anymore.

Today there are workforce management options within reach to small businesses that provide a simpler, faster, and more cost-effective way to automate HR and payroll processes, as well as avoid risk. With the right system in place, your company could actually save money in the long run by increasing the efficiency of your operations. 

Prepare for Growth

By helping you create sustainable long term strategies and processes, proper workforce and human resources management can set your SMB up for growth. As your business grows, you should spend less time worrying about timesheet reporting and administering benefits. Take your business out of the age of manual processes and data reentry, and into the age of accuracy, efficiency, and streamlined workforce compliance. Best of all: have peace of mind about your business’s state of affairs.

To learn more about workforce management software for small businesses, check out our whitepaper addressing workforce regulations and the benefits of implementing an effective workforce management system.

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While any company can benefit from HR consulting—from those with just a few employees to large, multi-site companies—there are three key signs that your organization’s in need of some outsourced assistance.

Leadership is Tasked with Handling HR

For many smaller businesses without a dedicated HR professional or team, the role is managed by either one or a variety of other strategic individuals in the organization, such as the CFO or head of finance. Adding HR functions onto leadership’s already demanding responsibilities can have detrimental consequences: either HR doesn’t get the time it needs or the executive spends too much time on HR, which detracts from their other duties.

HR consultants allow leadership to reinvest their efforts into the business by taking over all aspects of HR, from recruitment and hiring to benefits and compliance.

Your Employee Issues Require Specialized Expertise

No matter your size, employee issues can arise. And while some can be straightforward and managed by internal HR staff, more complex issues, like dealing with a problem employee or their termination, require specialized expertise to handle the situation effectively and ensure that the employee’s rights are preserved—and the company is protected against the risk of a lawsuit.

Outsourcing HR can give you access to more experience and specialized knowledge, for an immediate employee need or the long term, and for a lot less than hiring an internal expert.

Compliance is Becoming Overwhelming

Harassment and discrimination, pay equity, leave, and the Affordable Care Act are just some of the top compliance issues businesses face today. And staying abreast of the myriad of laws and regulations affecting the workplace is increasingly difficult—yet critical to avoiding liability and costly fines.

If internal HR staff doesn’t have the time or expertise to dedicate to compliance, an HR consultancy can help by ensuring appropriate and up-to-date policies and procedures are in place, communicated and followed to reduce your exposure so you can protect and grow your business.

How HR Consulting Can Help

If you lack the time and expertise to respond to the top HR challenges today, teaming with a dedicated HR professional at Complete Payroll Solutions can help. Our flexible, customized solutions enable us to deliver as much—or as little—assistance as you need for effective and efficient HR management that will keep you up with today’s challenges and position you for tomorrow’s opportunities.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

On April 1, the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act takes effect. Under the law, Massachusetts employers cannot deny pregnant women and new mothers reasonable accommodation for their pregnancies, even if a woman’s pregnancy or related condition doesn’t constitute a disability under existing state or federal discrimination laws.

What Constitutes Reasonable Accommodation?

The Act says that the employee (or prospective employee) and employer shall engage in an interactive process to determine an effective, reasonable accommodation. Reasonable accommodation can include:

  • More frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks
  • Time off to attend to a pregnancy complication or recover from childbirth with or without pay
  • Modified equipment or seating
  • A temporary transfer to a less strenuous position
  • Job restructuring
  • Light duty
  • A private non-bathroom space for breastfeeding
  • A modified work schedule

Employers, however, can deny a request for accommodation if it would impose an undue hardship.

Discrimination Prohibitions

The Act also increases the protections against pregnancy-related discrimination by amending the state’s antidiscrimination law and prohibiting employers from:

  • Denying a reasonable accommodation
  • Taking adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation
  • Denying employment opportunities based on the need to make a reasonable accommodation to the employee
  • Requiring an employee to accept an accommodation they don’t want to accept if it’s not necessary in order for them to perform the essential job functions
  • Requiring an employee to take a leave of absence if another reasonable accommodation could be provided
  • Refusing to hire a pregnant woman because of the pregnancy or related condition 

Notice Required

Under the Act, employers must distribute a written notice to employees of their right to be free of discrimination due to pregnancy or a related condition, including the right to reasonable accommodation. The notice should be provided in a handbook, pamphlet or by other means to all employees, including new employees and employees who notify the employer of a pregnancy or related condition within 10 days of the notification.

If you need help creating a new employee handbook or updating your current one, our HR experts can assist with that. We can also assess your handbook annually to ensure compliance, and handle a host of other complex compliance issues. For more information, call 866.658.8800 or click below.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

While human resources is an essential component of any business, it’s not easy to manage—and manage well—on top of your other responsibilities. In the worst-case scenario, HR best practices become an afterthought, which can be detrimental to both the wellbeing of your employees and the efficacy of your business.

That’s why outsourcing HR is one of the top business trends today. By outsourcing this integral function to an external entity, you’ll realize many benefits—not the least of which is preventing important policies and processes from being left unattended.

We know you’re busy, so we’re going to break down why so many companies are outsourcing HR and whether it might make sense for your company.

Why Companies Outsource HR

Today, an estimated 50 percent of companies outsource all or part of their HR needs, and this number is growing rapidly. Whether your company is large or small, there are different ways that you could benefit from outsourcing HR to an expert. To name a few:

  • Free up time and energy—23 percent of companies outsource to focus on strategy
  • Start saving money—26 percent of companies outsource to control their costs
  • Improve your compliance—22 percent of companies outsource to protect themselves from compliance issues
  • Gain access to best practices and advanced technology—18 percent of companies outsource to take advantage of technology and experience

If your company is small, outsourcing your HR can help you gain access to advanced human resource practices, cutting-edge technology, and skilled personnel without having to hire, manage, and pay an in-house HR team. For bigger companies with a lot going on at once, outsourcing HR or part of HR, can be the simplest solution to keeping up-to-date with compliance and legal matters so that you have one less thing to worry about.

When Outsourcing HR Makes Sense

If you’ve found yourself wishing that your organization was more adaptive and efficient in your HR efforts, you should consider outsourcing your HR.

Working with a partner like Complete Payroll Solutions signals you’re taking a proactive approach to human resources to transform your workplace, save company time, focus on higher priorities, and stay ahead of rules and regulations. If this sounds like the kind of upgrade you’ve been searching for, we’re thrilled to be able to help.

By outsourcing your HR to Complete Payroll Solutions, you’ll have access to benefits like:

  • Onsite HR assessments
  • Management and employee training
  • Dedicated, local HR Professional
  • Compliance Support
  • Custom employee handbooks
  • HR consulting

So, stop getting bogged down in paperwork and putting off important HR matters. Start making HR a priority by outsourcing to Complete Payroll Solutions. We’ll do our job so that you can get back to yours.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

Last month, the IRS released an updated online Withholding Calculator and a new version of Form W-4 to help taxpayers check the amount of withholding after enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which increased the standard deduction, removed personal exemptions, and increased the child tax credit, among other changes.

The tools will help taxpayers confirm that the right amount of tax is being taken out of their paychecks based on their personal circumstances. Many people with simple situations may not need to make any changes. However, those with more complicated financial situations, such as two-income families, people who claim the Child Tax Credit, those with itemized deductions, workers with more than one job, and people with high incomes, should check their withholding with the new calculator.

While the withholding changes do not affect 2017 tax returns, the Withholding Calculator can help taxpayers ensure they have the proper withholding for 2018 to avoid an unexpected tax bill or penalty if they have too little tax withheld, or adjust the tax withheld up front to receive more in their paychecks.

If taxpayers need to make changes to their withholding, the updated Withholding Calculator will help them complete a new Form W-4, which they should submit to their employer.

To further assist taxpayers, the IRS has published a Frequently Asked Questions about the calculator. For more information, call 866.658.8800 or your CPS Client Relations Specialist.